Delhi Traffic Police data for 2019, 2020 and 2021 was used to compile the report, which put the weekend as statistically the most dangerous on the roads. The report says 1,597 people lost their lives in the three years on the weekend, i.e. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Traffic officials explained that lack of safe, adequate and accessible infrastructure for pedestrians made them disproportionately vulnerable at night. Also, at night, because of the lesser traffic, pedestrians risked crossing roads instead of taking the overbridges. In 2019, 47% of the fatal accidents were hit-and-run crashes. This figure went up to 59% in 2021. The high rate of hit-and-run cases indicates vehicles involved in accidents are not reported.
“There are many factors that explain why most fatalities occur on Fridays around midnight,” said Mirick Paala, senior technical advisor (road injury surveillance) of public health organisation Vital Strategies. “One of the more prevalent issues is speeding. The current design of the majority of the roads in Delhi enables drivers to speed especially when there is less traffic volume, such as at night. At the same time, the lack of safe pedestrian infrastructure such as traffic calming and safe crossings put pedestrians especially at risk. On Friday nights, the road risk also sharply increases because it kick-starts the weekend and occurrence of drunken driving is possible.”
The study underlines the need to have more physical presence of traffic police between 10 pm and midnight in the city. This step is likely to reduce the number of accidents, bring down cases of drunken driving and also add to the government’s coffers.
Paala added, “The speeding of trucks and buses should be closely monitored because they are the ones most often observed to be speeding.”
The maximum casualties on the roads were caused by heavy vehicles or cargo carriers, followed by light motor vehicles and buses. As per the statistics, heavy vehicles mowed down 327 motorists and 234 pedestrians while light motor vehicles killed 169 motorists and 218 pedestrians.
The transport department’s Road Safety Lead Agency prepared the report in partnership with the Transportation Research and Injury Prevention Centre at IIT-Delhi and Vital Strategies, a partner under the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety.